HS2 trains bulk up for the bulky

Just the ticket: HS2’s carriages hold out the prospect of wider seats and more generous legroomThe train arriving on platform one will be slightly heavier than usual. A new generation of high-speed trains is being designed to accommodate the expanding girths of British passengers. “Customers are changing,” said Chris Rayner, managing director of railway operations at the HS2 high-speed rail network, in a presentation to rail industry executives. “HS2 trains will need to offer space for taller people and [allow for] much higher instances of obesity among passengers,” Rayner said. Companies bidding for a £2.75bn contract to build the first 60 trains for Britain’s £56bn high-speed network will be expected…

April 29, 2017 23:03 UTC

Cosmopolitan Canada

The Toronto skyline grows ever more crowded, but the CN Tower, with its observation deck 447 metres up, still stands out GETTYLike us, they’re co-joined by a bigger, bolshier neighbour, but that’s just the start of the list entitled What We Have In Common with Our Canadian Cousins. About 5m Canadians claim Scottish descent, and of the 22 Canadian prime ministers to date, 13 had Scottish heritage, including the first, Sir John Macdonald, born in Glasgow in 1815. While more Canadian cities are now accessible from Scotland, the main city we still choose is Toronto, which is served three and four times a week from Glasgow and Edinburgh from June to September. I enjoyed the service from the Air Canada Rouge flight attendants, who are young with funky uniforms and a “can-do” attitude — they’re trained in customer service at the Disney Institute in Orlando. They paint…

April 29, 2017 23:03 UTC

Heads together for the homeless

From left, Donal O’Donovan, Catherine Walsh, Clair Rooney and RTE’s Bryan Dobson launched the event this week JULIEN BEHALThe Business Journalists Association of Ireland has launched its 17th annual Corporate Challenge quiz in aid of the Dublin Simon Community. The event will take place on May 30 at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Dublin 4, with RTE’s Bryan Dobson returning as quizmaster and Peter Kelly, president of the High Court, adjudicating on the night. The annual event has raised close to €500,000 for the community, an organisation that helps to prevent and address homelessness. “The fundraising initiative has been a lifeline for us over the years. The money raised on the night helps us to provide vital services to those who rely on us each day,” said Justyna Drogomirecka, the corporate fundraising manager at Dublin Simon Community.

April 29, 2017 23:03 UTC

Labour facing end of a proud history

‘Like all Celts, they are socialists by instinct.” So wrote Keir Hardie of the Welsh during the six-month coal stoppage of 1898 which launched modern Welsh history. The past 100-odd years appear to confirm his view: Wales was the classic Labour heartland. The class confrontation of Taff Vale and Tonypandy rapidly undermined the old ascendancy of Gladstonian Liberalism: by the 1922 election, Wales had established itself as the most left-wing part of the British Isles. It was reinforced by the trade union battles of Black Friday and the 1926 general strike. Even Labour’s slaughter in 1931 did not dislodge the party’s dominance in Wales in parliament and in local government.

April 29, 2017 23:03 UTC

Read his lips: tax cuts mean growth

House Republicans think 20% would make America competitive again. Donald Trump thinks a 15% rate would Make America Great Again. And, for comparison, Theresa May thinks 17% would make a Brexited Britain both competitive and great again. His “big beautiful wall” with Mexico is a sop to his core voters — ineffective, and he knows it. Protectionism is a great talking point to constituents whose jobs were buried under an avalanche of globalisation.

April 29, 2017 23:03 UTC

Watkins hopes to put down a marker

Kallum Watkins boarded England’s flight for Sydney yesterday more out of relief than anything else. Saturday’s international against Samoa, preparation for the autumn World Cup Down Under, will be Watkins’ 20th England appearance since a three-try debut against France in 2012. Too often he has flattered to deceive or, in the case of last year’s poor Four Nations campaign, disappeared almost without trace. “It’s the plan with England to become more involved, because I’ve not been happy with how I’ve played in internationals,” the 26-year-old said. “In terms of performing against the big teams, it’s not been…

April 29, 2017 23:03 UTC

Brexit fallout may shape Irish border

The need for freight to travel easily may ensure a ‘soft’ border, but there will be more scrutiny EAMONN FARRELLI expect there will be a fairly soft border between the Republic and Northern Ireland — more for freight than for people (“New Irish border is one-way uncertainty”, Kevin Myers, Comment, last week). But this will be backed up by more scrutiny of people coming into the Republic, to which the Irish government will agree as a quid pro quo for the soft north-south border, and more scrutiny of people moving between the island of Ireland and the UK. The risk of the Republic becoming a soft route into the UK will be reduced by placing restrictions on EU immigrants, for example by only allowing them to settle in the UK if they are students or have a job offer. The situation might be a…

April 29, 2017 23:03 UTC

Pope urges North Korea-US mediation as Trump hedges on military action

North Korea nuclear threat: should California start panicking? Trump, who earlier this week said the US could have a “major, major conflict” with North Korea, responded with a tweet. The president wrote: “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected president when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. “Well, I didn’t say, “don’t test a missile’,” Trump said. Asked if he would meet Trump, the pope said: “I receive every head of state who asks for an audience.”

April 29, 2017 21:06 UTC

Labour party pledges to outlaw all zero-hours contracts

Labour has pledged to ban all zero-hours contracts, put a halt to unpaid internships and end the pay cap on public sector staff in an unashamedly leftwing pitch to British workers. McDonnell said: “The scandal of six million people earning less than the living wage and four million children growing up in poverty are not inevitable. On Saturday Corbyn broke off from a campaign speech to speak about his personal history, motivations and views on leadership. Labour strategists are keen to contrast what they portray as a cold Tory prime minister, Theresa May, with what they insist is Corbyn’s warmer personality. They are also anxious to contrast his willingness to take questions from the media with May’s refusal to take part in TV debates.

April 29, 2017 21:00 UTC

US woman convicted of spying in China returns home

Deportation of Phan ‘Sandy’ Phan-Gillis, who was arrested on a business trip and accused of espionage, comes at a time of warming China-US relationsAn American woman who was arrested on a business trip in China and later convicted of spying has been deported to the US. Jeff Gillis said his wife, Phan “Sandy” Phan-Gillis, got on a flight to Los Angeles from the southern city of Guangzhou on Friday evening. The couple planned to stay in LA a few days to visit relatives before returning to their Houston home, he said. On Tuesday, after being held without trial for two years, Phan-Gillis was sentenced by Chinese authorities to three years in prison. The deportation comes at a time of warming China-US relations after Donald Trump met Chinese president Xi Jinping in Florida in early April.

April 29, 2017 20:15 UTC

Mark Zuckerberg's surprise visit to Ohio family boosts rumor of political run

“It was completely incredible.”The Vindicator reported that Zuckerberg dined with the Moore family in Newton Falls, about 55 miles south-east of Cleveland. The newspaper said Zuckerberg had asked his staff to find Democrats who voted for Donald Trump. He and his wife also recently pledged $3bn to “cure, prevent or manage” all disease by the end of the century. On Christmas Day 2016, Zuckerberg said he no longer considers himself an atheist, a philosophical position which can be a problem for politicians. The Moore family said not all the chat at dinner was political, according to the Vindicator.

April 29, 2017 19:52 UTC

Fear of neofascism keeps Emmanuel Macron ahead of Marine Le Pen

Or, to be strictly accurate, to vote against the Front National’s Marine Le Pen. Jean-Marie Le Pen said ‘France for the French’, Marine Le Pen says ‘France first’ and her supporters chant: ‘This is our home’,” Camus told a meeting of the Anglo-American Press Association. In my mind it will be easier to continue the fight under Macron than Le Pen, who is more dangerous,” said Bernas. “It’s impossible for me to vote for Le Pen, but a vote for Macron? Latest polling suggests only 40% of Mélenchon voters will vote for Macron, 45% will abstain, while 15% will vote for Le Pen.

April 29, 2017 19:37 UTC

US service member killed in blast near Mosul, coalition says

A US service member died of wounds sustained from an explosion outside the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday, the US-led military coalition said. The battle for Mosul in maps Read moreUS-backed forces have been fighting to retake the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. In last year’s presidential election campaign, Trump vowed to give priority to destroying Isis, which operates mostly in Syria and Iraq. The news follows the deaths of two US soldiers in a raid in Afghanistan this week. The men, both army rangers, were identified as Sgt Joshua Rodgers, 22, and Sgt Cameron Thomas, 23.

April 29, 2017 19:29 UTC

EPA wipes its climate change site as protesters march in Washington

The American people – not Big Oil – must decide our climate future | Senator Bernie Sanders and Mark Jacobson Read moreThe announcement, made late Friday evening, left empty what was previously the “official government site” providing “comprehensive information on the issue of climate change and global warming”. The change came a day before thousands gathered in Washington DC and other US cities to protest inaction on climate change, and hours before the symbolic 100-day mark of the Trump administration. At the marquee climate protest, the Peoples Climate March in Washington, tens of thousands made their way down Pennsylvania Avenue in sweltering heat on their way to encircle the White House. Previously, the website housed data on greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters and reports on the effects of climate change and its impact on human health. In an op-ed piece for the Guardian published on Saturday, Sanders made an economic case for a focus on industries meant to ameliorate the effects of climate change, rather than those which contribute to it.

April 29, 2017 17:37 UTC

Alexei Navalny on Putin's Russia: 'All autocratic regimes come to an end'

Navalny believes that as poverty continues to blight large swaths of Russia’s population, the mood of protest will only grow. And these days it’s not just in Russia that Putin is seen as all-powerful. But even if they have occasional uses for him, Putin’s men have long grappled with the issue of how to deal with Navalny. But all autocratic regimes come to an end. Who would have thought in 1985 that the Soviet Union would all come to an end before long?

April 29, 2017 06:22 UTC

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